Today in the “Internet of Things” (IoT) many digital circuits can be found hidden in a product. Even coffee machines and refrigerators are controlled by digital circuits. In voice-over-IP telephones they transform speech into zeroes and ones and send them to the recipient where they are converted back into sound waves. In the receiver for digital TV a digital circuit runs millions of calculations every second to calculate images from the received data.
In the digital design lab, students of electrical engineering learn to develop their own digital circuits. The students describe the function of the circuit using the hardware description language (VHDL). This circuit is then loaded into a programmable digital circuit, a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). Now, students can check whether the circuit behaves as desired. To analyze the behavior and find possible errors several instruments are available.
The lab has eight workplaces for two students each. Each workplace is equipped with: PC with development software, evaluation board with FPGA and on-board-programmer, logic analyzer. Oscilloscopes and voltmeter are available for further analysis.
Additionally eight development boards are provided to enable students estimating the power consumption of image processing circuits.
More devices are accessible for research projects. In particular, the lab is equipped with evaluation boards of various FPGA vendors (Altera, Xilinx, Actel, Lattice) and powerful measurement instruments.
What is done?
Some of the laboratory experiments:
- Control of a 7-segment display
- State machines
- Power estimation of digital circuits
- Implementation and power estimation of image processing circuits like video filters